PRETORIA, September 29, 2020 (Tennis South Africa Press Release)
South African teen sensation Kholo Montsi jets off today to Paris ahead of his debut appearance at the French Open Junior Tennis Championships at Roland Garros.
Montsi received his second direct entry into the main draw of a Junior Grand Slam tournament and is pumped up ahead of the event. The Junior competition is scheduled to be played from October 4th to October 10th at Roland Garros.
Charged for his debut at the French Open, Montsi says he is ready to hit the clay courts in Paris and soak up the atmosphere that comes with a Grand Slam tournament despite the 6-month layoff due to COVID-19.
“It feels good to be able to play in a junior grand slam, especially the French Open because it is one tournament, I really wanted to play in. My team and I are confident going into this tournament. We have prepared well,” said Montsi.
The 17-year-old Montsi will become the first black South African junior player to play at the prestigious tennis tournament in 20 years since Peter-John Nomdo in 2000.
“I am sure there have been other black junior players that have played (in the French Open) but to be the first from South Africa in 20 years is incredibly special. I want to take this opportunity with both hands and come back home with a title. I am super happy to be part of this event and competing with some of the top guys in the junior circuit.”
The French Open event will be Montsi’s first tournament in 6 months, he last played a competitive match in March, when he lost in the opening round of the Potchefstroom ATP Challenger 50.
“The French Open will be my first tournament in 6 months, it is a very long time but we have been working very hard – I spent the last month on the clay and the moment I received the news that French Open is happening I was on the clay. We have worked hard especially in the gym on the physical side, knowing that the clay is tough. We have done the right work however it would be great to go a week early to prepare on the real clay, but it is not possible due to COVID-19.”
Proving his position as one of South Africa’s up and coming talents is Montsi’s Junior ITF Ranking of 13. 2020 has been a great year for the Eastern Cape born star who earlier in the year was included as part of the SA team participating at the inaugural ATP Cup in Australia.
His impressive 2020 performance showcase boasts African U18 singles and doubles crowns and a first ever appearance in the ATP Challenger event.
Montsi remains confident despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, “Obviously, COVID-19 has made things hard for everyone and it is a risky time to be travelling but I do feel safe as we will be in a bubble in Paris, so it shouldn’t be too dangerous. After waiting so long for tournaments, everyone just wants to get out there and start playing again. It is a bit scary travelling right now, but I think it’s something we all want to do and take the risk.”
Montsi will join a strong South African contingent of players competing at the French Open, including men’s singles players Lloyd Harris and Kevin Anderson, doubles ace Raven Klaasen and wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane.